5,00 protest COVID-19 restrictions in Berlin
Police have arrested or temporarily detained 600 people in German protests about the government's pandemic measures
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Berlin despite a ban on several demonstrations, including those from the Querdenken (Lateral Thinking) movement which is sceptical of the German government's anti-coronavirus measures.
Up to 5,000 people protested throughout the city, including in the Charlottenburg, Schoeneberg, Mitte and Kreuzberg districts.
There were several clashes between protesters and police, who deployed water cannon at the Victory Column in the centre of the Tiergarten park.
Around 600 people were arrested or temporarily detained in order to take personal details, according to a police spokesperson.
Helicopters circled above, monitoring the different groups of protesters scattered throughout the capital.
According to police reports, people repeatedly tried to break through barriers. "In individual cases, physical force had to be used," said a police spokesperson.
A rally by the initiative Querdenken 711 had originally been planned on the central boulevard that runs through the Tiergarten, June 17 Street, for which about 22,500 participants had been registered.
However, the Berlin police had banned the rally and a number of other protests because they feared violations of the anti-coronavirus hygiene regulations.
The police issued expulsions and also stopped a tour bus and seized technology, a spokesperson said.
The police spokesperson said the groups had repeatedly come together across the city and the "potential for aggression" had varied. Police officers were also injured, but he did not give an exact number or further details. According to Twitter, the police also used irritants and batons.
People protested in various groups, demanding "End the Coronavirus Dictatorship," holding banners such as "No Test: No Pandemic."
The police spokesperson said:
"We have been preparing for a very energy-sapping operation this entire weekend."
Asked about police tactics and why people had managed to gather, he said, "The police are required to use a sense of proportion."